I got home from filming the last Time Team (the Machine Gun Corps training camp), then spent three frantic days trying (and failing) to catch-up in the garden, before setting off for the West Country on a pre-booked holiday in one of the Vivat Trust’s excellent cottages. This ‘cottage’ was in fact a small tower built in the 1830s overlooking the River Severn in the picturesque Worcestershire village of Upper Arley. The weather changed over the weekend and suddenly summer was here. But as so often happens when you decide to stop the rat-race and take a break, you go down with a cold – which is what happened to me. Still, never daunted, we set off and arrived at our tower, having visited the wonderful gardens at Hidcote Manor, en route. My niece Rosie is a gardener there – surely, the gardening equivalent of digging at Stonehenge, or Tutankhamen’s Tomb. She, and of course the garden, were splendid and helped me forget about my sniffles and sneezes.
All in all the holiday was superb: the sun shone, lambs bleated, pink campions winked from roadside verges and in the distance a steam train whistled. The Severn Valley Railway ran along the other side of the valley and I was able to relive my childhood at Arley station. The steam engine was, I think, a Black Five. I haven’t seen one of them for over forty years… And about twenty minutes’ walk along the river from our tower, was the superb, single span, Victoria railway bridge, built in 1861.
I just can’t understand why so many people go abroad for their holidays, as there is just so much to do in Britain. ‘Staycations’ are seen as somehow second best. Barmy. Absolutely barmy. No, I’m absolutely convinced there’s a direct link between creeping brain death and the time a person spends lying on a beach.
Meanwhile, back to the garden for another frantic burst of extreme weeding. Then next week I’m heading south and east for another Time Team. This one will be older than the Machine Gun Corps – but younger than the Iron Age, which began the current series for me. That’s one of the things I like about Time Team and, for that matter, holidays in Britain: things are never the same. It’s all about variety – and yes, it is the spice of life.